Organise Me: Backing up - don't invite trouble in

By Andy McArthur As a freelancer, being professional and productive is key to enjoying success. I must admit that as I write each post here, I am definitely writing from my own experiences. I along side you am going to strive to be more efficient and make this year a productive one by getting the basics sorted. In this month's post I'm looking at workflow by implementing a safe backing up system.

So I know that the subject of backing up is fairly dry and kudos that most people have this sorted, but it is fresh on my mind. I have recently started freelancing and I work from a main "work horse" computer. Unfortunately my work horse broke its back and passed away early last week. Panic struck as I fumbled around trying to continue working, RIP computer. On the positive side, hurray for shiny new iMacs and recoverable hard drives.

I heard a great analogy this week via '(Freelance) Tips Learned From Top Tennis Players'. One of the pieces of wisdom was in regard to backing up:

"Ever look at a tennis match and not see the players with at least five other racquets in their bags?… There is an easy answer to this, it’s because they always have to be prepared! Anything can happen on the court."

Take from this the need to always be prepared.

When things go wrong you need an emergency system already in place to get you out of trouble. I urge you to stop and think about what would happen if your computer was to have serious problems, or the App you are using crashed or your house was to have an unexpected fire (with no one hurt of course). Would you be able to continue working? Would you be able to continue invoicing or using your emails? It's time to make sure you backup everything that is NECESSARY, then backup, backup and backup some more.

Thankfully at the time my computer crashed I had already implemented a 1.5TB external drive with Mac's Time Machine running constantly in the background. This meant that when my main computer was out for repairs I could plug in my backup drive and use the files from my last backup on my laptop. Unfortunately I had recently installed new programs such as an invoicing system which I hadn't yet begun to backup or install on my laptop. Fail. To counteract this I would make sure you have all of you program licensing details in a safe location off your computer (and on email) so that you can reinstall programs if necessary. Also if a program you are using has an inbuilt automated backup system, use it. This also got me thinking about emails: are they safe? If you use POP (Post office protocol) to access your email, you can always access it with another mail program if you have it set up.

After a little bit of research and asking other designers how they tackle the challenge that is "Backup", I discovered that a large proportion of people are now using "Cloud" (online) storage services. With Cloud storage you are able to save your current local data in the Cloud (off-site) and access those files from other computers (with internet access). Too easy. There are many Cloud facilities available online.

So, this month, let's all resolve to backup and stay productive.

Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual. Type is her true love and goes weak over great design. After being a graphic designer for many years she has switched hats to become an educator of graphic design and enjoys watching others fall in love with design too. From January this year Andrea has switched hats again starting her solo freelance design business in Brisbane.